Former first-round NFL pick, defensive lineman Shane Ray has earned a starting position with the Toronto Argonauts, per sources.
According to coaches, talent evaluators, and teammates, Ray was “nearly unblockable” for the Argos entire training camp at the University of Guelph. His consistent performance has earned the 28-year-old a starting position on the opposite side of future Canadian Football Hall of Famer Charleston Hughes.
Hughes has been helping Ray learn the nuances of pass rushing in the Canadian game. The four-time three-down league sack leader and six-time CFL all-star has been a sounding board for the ultra-talented Ray. The word “elite” has been used by people around the Argos to describe his abilities as pass rusher.
Ray was selected in the first round, 23rd overall by the Denver Broncos in the 2015 NFL Draft. He was viewed as a surefire top-10 pick, but a marijuana possession citation saw him fall down the board.
As a junior in 2014 for the University of Missouri, Ray notched 65 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, and forced three fumbles in 14 games. He was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the year and unanimous All-American. That’s why scouts felt Ray could make an instant impact in the NFL.
The Broncos won Super Bowl 50 in his rookie year. Ray played in 14 games during his first season, making 20 tackles and four sacks while earning an NFL championship ring. He improved during his second year, recording 48 tackles, eight sacks, recovering two fumbles, returning one for a touchdown, and forcing one fumble.
After his standout sophomore season, doctors uncovered a torn wrist ligament, which required surgery and had a six-to-eight week recovery timeline. He was placed on injured reserve to start the 2017 season. Ray was activated in October but was placed back on IR following a third surgery on his wrist, which ended his season.
Denver declined to pick up Ray’s fifth-year contract option in May 2018 and one month later he underwent another wrist surgery. That sidelined Ray for three months and kept teams away from him for the entire schedule.
Baltimore brought Ray to training camp in 2019, but he was released during final roster cuts. His stint with the Ravens is the last time Ray was with a pro franchise prior to coming north of the border.
Through 49 career NFL games, 15 starts, Ray has 94 tackles, 14 sacks, two forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles, two pass deflections and scored one defensive touchdown. Over his time in the NFL, Ray earned over $9.3 million dollars.
The six-foot-three, 245-pound Ray has the skillset to thrive in the CFL and the Argos have seen it firsthand.